By Charles J. Mouratides
Exec. Director, CHI
Two natives of the Jewish community of Greece will headline the special commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz in the Chapel of Chicago’s Temple Sholom, on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m.
Prof. Isaak Daniel, originally from Veroia, Greece, now at Northwestern University’s engineering school, and Prof. Mimis Cohen, from Athens, now at the University of Illinois/Chicago medical school, will lead audiovisual presentations on the dramatic events of 1941-1945, Master of Ceremonies will be Prof. George Papadantonakis of UIC/Chicago.
Auschwitz is the concentration and death camp forced on the overwhelming majority of Greek Jews. Of about 20 trains that were used for transport of about 50,000 Greek Jews from Thessaloniki, 19 went to this camp.
The commemoration is organized by the Jewish Studies department of the University of Illinois/Chicago; CHI-Circle for Hellas and Israel, and UIC’s Hillel Center. The consuls general of Greece, Israel and Poland have also been invited. Refreshments will follow.
It is reported that “Nearly 60,000 prisoners were forced to march west from the Auschwitz camp system. Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began. Tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to march to the city of Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia. SS guards shot anyone who fell behind or could not continue. Prisoners also suffered from the cold weather, starvation, and exposure on these marches. More than 15,000 died during the death marches from Auschwitz.
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill and dying. It is estimated that at minimum 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered.
Temple Sholom is at 3480 N. Lake Shore Dr. Event entrance on Stratford Ln., across from the parking lot.